In a show of international cooperation, the navies of Colombia, Japan, and the United States met in the waters of the Colombian Caribbean to carry out a series of naval exercises. The objective was to increase interoperability between countries and foster good relations in order to improve maritime security.
The Colombian Navy’s Ocean Patrol Vessel ARC Victoria and an ARC 251 helicopter, the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship USS Detroit, and the JS Kashima and JS Hatakaze of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in the training held September 6-8, as part of Colombia’s Naval Bicentennial celebrations.
The training comprised different naval exercises to test the capabilities of participating units and their crews with the purpose of increasing their interoperability, and strengthening cooperation in pursuit of peace, security, freedom of navigation, defense, and protection of common maritime interests.
“All the planning was done by the three countries with the participation of the U.S. ship, the Japanese squadron, and the Colombian ship,” Colombian Navy Vice Admiral Hernando Enrique Mattos Dager, commander of the Caribbean Naval Force, told Diálogo. “These are interoperability exercises, helicopter exchanges, and exercises in the navies’ own formations.”
Sailors of the three countries trained and cooperated in activities, such as communications exercises, advanced tactical maneuvers, and naval operations, through the standardization of procedures established by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which favor a high level of interoperability between afloat and air units, to provide timely, relevant, and adequate responses to great global challenges in security and defense, the Colombian Navy said in a statement.
“In the face of technological and operational challenges the different countries encounter, carrying out these exercises represents a unique opportunity to be highly trained and up to date before real scenarios, in each of the procedures, as well as to maintain strong ties of friendship, cooperation, and the exchange of capabilities,” the Colombian Navy said.
“[These exercises] are useful so that, in the future, if I need to land a helicopter on the deck of a U.S. ship, they will know the communications procedure, and the same goes for all, as with Japan, and we too receive their helicopters on our deck,” Vice Adm. Mattos said. “They can be used in real life operations, for example, in maritime interdiction in the fight against drug trafficking, or they can be used in other humanitarian operations in which suddenly the two countries have the same area for some emergency, and then the ships know how to interact.”
As part of the Colombian Navy Bicentennial celebration, the Italian sailing ship Américo Vespucci, an ocean patrol vessel from the Netherlands, and two Korean ships were also present. These celebrations will continue until the end of the year, Vice Adm. Mattos said.